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Denver Airport Layover
April 16, 2011 7:07 AM   Subscribe

I'll be taking a business trip in a few weeks and I have a 6 hour layover in the Denver airport. What are my options? I've heard the airport might be too far away from the city for any real excursion. Is there anything worthwhile INSIDE the airport? NEAR the airport? Or do I just need a good book and a cup of coffee?
posted by tmharris65 to Travel & Transportation around Denver, CO (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Denver Airport's sculptures and murals have been the subject of speculation and interpretation for years. Scroll down in this link for a slideshow.
posted by carmicha at 7:52 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes. The airport itself is out in the middle of nowhere (a stone's throw almost literally from my mother-in-law's house but the murals are definitely worth a looksee.

But yes, I'd bring a book too.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:56 AM on April 16, 2011


Between getting through the airport, working out transportation, and actually getting to and from downtown, you'll eat up half that 6 hour layover without actually doing anything. It's doable, but I'd advise against leaving the airport.

Currently (or when I was there recently, anyway), there's a lot of renovation going on in the airport to allow for a light rail connection. That will make it faster to leave the airport in the future, but it makes the airport even less interesting than normal right now, as a lot of the art is covered.

So yeah, I'd bring a book.
posted by scottreynen at 8:06 AM on April 16, 2011


Make sure to eat at Que Bueno in the B terminal. For airport food it's pretty darn good, and way better than McD's, Panda Express, and the rest of the fast food joints. The terminals are all connected by the train so you don't have to leave security if you land at A or C to get to B.
posted by 6550 at 8:17 AM on April 16, 2011


Six hours is long enough that I might consider buying a day pass to an airline's hospitality room. It looks like America Arlines charges $50 a day, I imagine other airlines offer similar deals.
posted by phil at 8:43 AM on April 16, 2011


nthing a tour of the airports terminals for the 'art'

If I were there for 6 hours, I would absolutely leave. I would take the bus to Boulder (1 hr) and then have a great beer at Mountain Sun, walk up and down the street, admire the Flatirons and breath in that lovely air, then go back to the airport. You'd have at least 2 hours in town. But then again, I really love Boulder...
posted by jardinier at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2011


Denver has some of the best food of any layover airport. If I have hours to kill, I like to hang out at the French bistro. With a little work, I can convince myself that I am not in an airport.

But yes, Denver Airport is a long distance from Denver. You probably don't have time to hop into town.
posted by zippy at 11:09 AM on April 16, 2011


Departing from Denver on a Sunday morning this winter we nearly missed our flight because of the longest lines waiting to pass through the security checkpoints I've ever seen in an airport. It's my only recent experience at DEN so it may not be representative, but it would discourage me from leaving the airport in your situation.

Renting a car was easy and economical, but there didn't seem to be much of interest within a half-hour drive of the airport.
posted by Snerd at 11:12 AM on April 16, 2011


This experience is from several years ago so take it fwiw, but when I last rented a car at DEN it took a lot longer. I actually missed my return flight because I didn't plan for the numerous stops made by the rental car shuttle (and its tardiness). The rental car lots are quite far from the airport, compared to other similar-sized ones.

I think you can still get a 15-minute massage in one of the areas on the upper level of the United terminal.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 11:23 AM on April 16, 2011


you don't have to leave security if you land at A or C to get to B.

I've changed planes at DIA many times in recent years, but seldom have time to get out of United territory, Terminal B. The foods there's not bad. But note I did have to go through security again to get back to the gate when I rode the connector train to A from B, and I havn't seen the infamous murals yet because they're down in baggage claim.
posted by Rash at 11:26 AM on April 16, 2011


DIA has free wireless, which is nice. (also yes, there's art to look at throughout the secure area too).
posted by nat at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2011


I've changed planes at DIA many times in recent years, but seldom have time to get out of United territory, Terminal B. The foods there's not bad. But note I did have to go through security again to get back to the gate when I rode the connector train to A from B,

Weird -- I'm not sure how that could've happened on a domestic connection. I have flown in/out of DIA literally dozens and dozens of times, and my experience has always been as 6550 suggests. (I.e., the train between terminals is on the secure side, so as long as you don't take it all the way to baggage claim and go up the escalator, you're fine.) Maybe it's different for international to domestic connections or something.

Anyway, OP: with a six hour layover you could conceivably make it to Denver or Boulder for a couple of hours if a whirlwind tour is your cup of tea. If you really want to see Boulder, I wouldn't rely on the bus, and would rent a car for the afternoon instead (not because it's a lot faster, but because the bus only runs once every hour or so, so unless your schedule lines up perfectly it's not going to work). You do want to arrive back at DIA in plenty of time for your return flight, though -- the lines can sometimes get a little long (unless you are "premier exec" or higher on United or equivalent).

If you stay in the airport, I second Que Bueno for food and a margarita. (They will make them with any of the good tequilas they have on hand behind the counter; just ask.) There's also a "new belgium brewpub" near gate 80 in concourse B; they'll have a good selection of the new belgium beers on tap. (Fat Tire, sure, but also some slightly more obscure stuff.) The airport still has free wifi, I think, so that's something.
posted by chalkbored at 11:41 AM on April 16, 2011


Err, and just to clarify: when I say it's possible to do a whirlwind trip to Boulder, let me be clear that this means blowing ~3 hours in transit (going to get a rental car, driving to Boulder, returning and stopping for gas, getting back to the airport), which means you really would only have an hour in Boulder (since you really want to be back at least an hour before your flight, and probably more). So this is not something I actually recommend, but it is _possible_ if you're hell-bent on getting to see something in your six hours.
posted by chalkbored at 11:44 AM on April 16, 2011


Thanks for all the great responses!

Staying in the airport seems like the most likely option. I like the idea of an airline's hospitality room ... any idea if Frontier has a hospitality room?

Also ... is there any kind of rest/yotel/minute suite facility in the Denver airport?
posted by tmharris65 at 2:42 PM on April 16, 2011


Frontier does not have a lounge at DEN. It looks like American, Delta, Continental, and United do.

If you are sticking around the airport anyway, what about standing by for an earlier flight? Obviously this only works if there is an earlier flight to your destination, but if there is, you could try.
posted by cabingirl at 4:10 PM on April 16, 2011


The lounges are nothing luxurious, and you'll get a better margarita at Que Bueno. But they aren't bad if all you want is a quiet place to sit and read. Basic beer and wine are free in the UA and CO lounges; you have to pay for the nicer stuff. There aren't any hotels in the airport proper, but I imagine one of the nearby ones (there are several clustered a few miles away) offers day rooms if you want a place to sleep.
posted by chalkbored at 4:30 PM on April 16, 2011


Things to do while on layover or delayed:

Flying Without Frazzle, The Denver Post, Dec. 2010
posted by hms71 at 8:17 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've flown through DEN a bunch because it's a United hub. Actually has pretty decent food, shops, etc. IIRC there is also a place to get a massage.
posted by radioamy at 10:20 PM on April 16, 2011


The bus to Boulder (and the one to downtown Denver as well) only takes an hour, but keep in mind that it only leaves once an hour, as well, both coming and going. Depending on when you fly in and when you have to come back, that could cut into your exploration time. As someone who relies a lot on the airport-to-downtown bus to get to and from the airport, this often means I have to leave almost two hours in advance of my flight to get to DIA in time to go through security. The Boulder bus is usually the same way. I wouldn't recommend doing that. Plus, it's $22 round trip to Denver, $24 round trip to Boulder. I would sit and drink beer at the New Belgium bar at the eastern end of Concourse B instead.
posted by heurtebise at 12:27 AM on April 17, 2011


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